@issa (of ODK Build fame), @matthew_white (of odk-meta fame), @ln (of XForms tricks fame) and I have been building a new ODK 1 server that, with the ODK 1 @TSC’s approval, is now ready to share with the community! We call it ODK Central.
Central does not yet have all the functionality of ODK 1 servers (e.g., Aggregate, Ona, Kobo, ELMO), but it does the basics of hosting forms and submissions very well! It also has some nice features like:
- Simplified user interface with checklists to reduce training
- OData feed for live-updating reports in Excel, Power BI, or Tableau
- Automated and encrypted off-site backups for safety
- Extensible through a RESTful API to users, forms, and submissions
- Great performance on low-cost local or cloud machines
- Detailed docs at https://docs.opendatakit.org/central-intro
We think it’s important to get early feedback from the community about what features you'd like to see in Central, so I’m thrilled to announce that we are opening up Central for an alpha!
An alpha release is a chance for early adopters to try the software. Alphas may be unstable and unreliable, so please do not use Central on real deployments with real data yet.
Alphas are also not feature-complete. In the case of Central, the important limitations are:
- Form submission data cannot yet be viewed or filtered directly on the server
- Form definitions cannot yet have media attachments or be encrypted
- No support yet for ODK Briefcase
If you’d like to try out the alpha and offer your feedback, you have two options.
Option 1: We’ve set up a sandbox server running Central at https://sandbox.central.opendatakit.org. To get an invite, send me a private message! Please note that everyone on the server will be able to see your email address, forms, and data.
Option 2: Central makes it easy to self-host on a local machine (free) or in the cloud (~$5/month). Go to http://github.com/opendatakit/central to get started. Please note that you will need a little bit of technical know-how.
Once you have a chance to try Central, we’d love your feedback as a comment below . We are particularly interested in answers to the following questions.
- What, if anything, was confusing?
- What missing feature is preventing you from using this for your next project?
One question you might have is “what about Aggregate?”. The ODK 1 ecosystem has always had a variety of servers and we believe that having so many choices is a strength!
@ggalmazor continues to lead community members in improving Aggregate (in fact, we have a release coming soon). That said, Aggregate is built on technology that makes it hard to evolve quickly and we believe that over time, Central may grow into a better platform for addressing some of the larger backend features that the community has requested.
We continue to need your help making Aggregate better. If you depend on it, please head to https://github.com/opendatakit/aggregate and help. It’s never been easier to contribute.